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Michael D. Higgins Critical Of The Role Of Sports Gambling In Irish Life

Michael D. Higgins Critical Of The Role Of Sports Gambling In Irish Life

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins has revealed that he would be in favour of banning gambling advertising from sporting events.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One's Sunday Sport, Higgins expressed his concern at the access betting firms currently have to various sports.

I'm very concerned about gambling for example, which if I had my way, I wouldn't have advertising of any access to gambling platforms in sport at all. I really worry when I read cases of people who have come through [gambling problems].

Higgins went onto say that he thought that sport should be protected from being utilised by betting companies, arguing that addiction to gambling has grown in sport over the years:

The often-secret addiction has grown in sport in recent years - and a number of high profile sports people have talked about their stories of addiction.

I just think [sport] should be protected from it. There is no one being heavy about it. What you can do is through education obviously, through the school systems.

As well as that, we do need, and it's not for me as President [to do something] as I'm no influence except to say what I think, is that the integrity of sport means having care for everyone who participates.

Having care for everyone who participates means not exposing them when in fact they are vulnerable. How you deal with vulnerabilities is by preparing them of course.

But you can't do everything through education. For too long in Ireland we often ignore problems that are staring us in the face.

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Gambling has become an issue for GAA players as of late with GPA spokesman Alan Kerins revealing that of the 77 players who requested counselling services in 2017, 15% of them were for gambling-related issues. The cases of Davy Glennon and Oisin McConville have also brought to light gambling addiction. The GAA recently overwhelmingly voted to ban all sponsorship from gambling companies at their annual congress in Croke Park in February, but in other sports such as soccer, gambling advertising is rife, nine of the shirt sponsors for Premier League clubs are betting firms.

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Eoin Lyons